2015.07 minutiae

  • There's a Tibetan restaurant near my house that I like both because it is very good and because I know that I can go there even on Thanksgiving or Christmas and it won't be closed.  It's actually become a recurring thing: I'll go out to get something to eat, see that everything is closed, realize that it's a major holiday, and think, "Guess I'm going to Potala tonight!", and sure enough, the Open sign in the window will be the only one lit up for several blocks.  So on July 6th I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner, and I thought, "Hey, you know what? I think I feel like going to Potala! And for once it won't be because a holiday has left me out of options! Let's see what's on the menu today!"  So I went to the web site, and:

    "We will be closed Monday, July 6 for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Birthday."

  • I would be very interested in a service that would allow me to enter a noun and get a list of the adjectives most commonly applied to that noun.  Verbs and adverbs, too.  I guess one of the tricks would be to have an option to strike results that have a lot of overlap with other lists, so that you don't end up with "good" and "big" every time.

  • When you've written yourself into a corner, it's nice to come up with a way out, and even better to think up a good way out, but a qualitatively different feeling to realize the correct way out.

  • I've mentioned in previous minutiae posts that I've been watching Yale courses on Youtube; most recently, I started into Joanne Freeman's course on the American Revolution, which soon proved remarkable for being not just interesting but also a lot of fun.  Here's a sample.  On Jamestown:

    Benjamin Franklin goes to a revival meeting:

  • One of my least favorite aspects of modern web design is that scrolling to the bottom of an article usually causes another article to suddenly appear beneath the originally selected one.  Not only is this annoying for practical reasons — I usually lose my place — but it makes me viscerally uncomfortable, because there's no floor.  The scroll box can never reach the bottom of the scroll bar.  It actually might be significantly less bothersome if the infinite scrolling went upward, because having no ceiling is fine: it's called "being outside".  But I need terra firma on a web page just like I need it in real life.  I've searched for a browser plugin that blocks infinite scrolling, but the few I've found haven't worked for me.  The best I can do is toggle Javascript, which is usually overkill, but which is also usually better than underkill.

  • So, we finally have a decent picture of Pluto.  The thing that gets me about this is that that heart is so instantly iconic — if a quick little sketch of Saturn is a circle with rings around it, and Jupiter is a circle with bands and a spot, isn't Pluto now a circle with a heart in it?  And yet for 85 years we didn't even know that heart was there.  It's a giant piece of information and we've only known it for a couple of weeks.

  • I wonder whether in the future there will ever be some sort of scanner that will track exactly how a piece of produce is ripening.  "PEAK RIPENESS IN 8h32m", that sort of thing.  It is confounding how one avocado that looks ripe will be vegetal and fibrous, and another will have that unmistakable tang that says it's gone off — and they tend to go from the one to the other in about five minutes.  Or take nectarines — unyielding one moment, mealy the next.  And yet a perfect avocado and a perfect nectarine are basically the only things that justify the hot bright onslaught of summer.

  • I seem to have lost my sense of when things happened.  I was poking around online looking for information on the Scribble Pen and Solar Roadways scams, and was stunned to discover that they both happened in 2014.  I guess I knew they happened in the 2010s, but last year?  They both feel like so long ago.

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